Do you feel constantly exhausted and worn down? Are you always bloated or constipated, but you’re not quite sure about the cause? Do you find yourself having sudden, frequent mood swings and recurrent anxiety or do you find it hard to focus and can’t seem to remember details very well? If you answered yes to the above questions, then you might have Candida overgrowth. It might seem hard to believe that your state of mind can be influenced by something internal, but our minds and outward dispositions are hardwired to our anatomies and how we feel is often just a reflection of the physical changes that occur in the body.
Candida Albicans is a form of yeast (also known as a fungus) which lives inside your intestines and mouth and is meant to improve nutrient absorption and facilitate digestion. While its role is mainly beneficial to the human body, if the fungus is overproduced, then it can cause ruptures in the intestinal wall and release harmful toxins into the bloodstream. An overabundance of Candida permeates the gut lining, generating cracks in the intestines. As a result, when you eat, undigested food particles along with certain infectious substances drift through the fissures and reach the bloodstream, travelling everywhere in the body. This is also known as leaky gut syndrome. In order to protect itself, the body’s immune system sets off a response that can, in turn, lead to inflammation, digestive issues, severe allergies and even certain autoimmune diseases.
The most common symptoms of Candida excess in the body include recurrent digestive issues like constipation, painful gas and bloating or diarrhea, any type of nail and skin fungal infections (for example toenail fungus), persistent itchiness, chronic sinus and allergy issues. Skin issues like acne and eczema or any other types of stubborn rashes are also prevalent in patients suffering from Candida infection.
There are also several indicators concerning your emotional health – if you find that you are constantly tired or fatigued, you’re easily irritable, have anxiety attacks, depressive episodes or unexpected mood swings, these are all linked to a fungal imbalance in your body. Migraines, “brain fog” and loss of sex drive are also common symptoms. Frequent urinary tract infections, vaginal infections and rectal itching are all strong indicators of a yeast infection present in the body.
The foods you’re always hungry for can also be a signal – since Candida feeds off of sugar, you’ll most likely be craving sweets and refined carbohydrates all the time. Other symptoms include joint pain, bad breath and certain food sensitivities. Fungal infections can also affect your brain, causing a lack of focus, difficulty concentrating and poor memory. Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, ulcerative colitis and scleroderma have also been linked to Candida overgrowth.
Typically, if the amount of Candida in your body is at a normal level, then the fungus is virtually harmless. In fact, it’s beneficial for your body and aids with digestion. The issue arises when the healthy “good bacteria” in your gut can no longer keep the Candida levels in check. Here are some factors that can contribute or speed up this process: living a high-stress lifestyle, consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and eating a sugar-rich diet, high in refined carbohydrates.
Using broad-spectrum antibiotics is also a known cause of Candida overgrowth. The trouble with overusing antibiotics is that, while they are beneficial and can be lifesaving in many cases, they do not make the difference between bad bacteria and good bacteria. So, although they can kill off stubborn harmful bacteria, they also destroy the body’s gut flora in the process. Since good bacteria are responsible for keeping Candida levels under control, multiple courses of antibiotics over a short period of time can turn your body into a breeding ground for the fungus.
People with weakened immune systems, like the elderly, infants, children and those diagnosed with HIV, are also more prone to developing Candida infections and autoimmune diseases. Diabetes is also an important risk factor to consider. Due to the significantly higher sugar content in the mouth of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes patients, there is an increased chance of developing fungal infections (since Candida feeds and grows on sugar).
For asthma sufferers, recent research has found that those who use corticosteroid inhalers run a higher risk of producing Candida in the mouth. This can, in time, lead to systemic Candida overabundance, affecting the rest of the body. If you use this type of inhaler, it is recommended that you take a sip of water and swish it around your mouth several times after each use. In the event that you still develop oral candidiasis, you can try treating it by rinsing your mouth with a mix of essential clove oil and coconut oil.
Common cancer treatments can also cause candidiasis to become invasive. While radiation and chemotherapy can both be incredibly effective in destroying cancer cells, they are also bound to kill off the healthy gut bacteria that naturally protect against Candida.
While modern oral contraception for women has undeniable benefits, preventing unwanted pregnancies and offering women more sexual freedom, there are a few drawbacks worth considering. Recent studies have found that one of these downsides is an increased risk of developing Candida infections.
The majority of oral contraceptives contain two main hormones – estrogen and progestin. In a healthy woman, the levels of progesterone and estrogen rise and decline over the course of 28 days (a regular menstrual cycle). Conventional birth control pills disrupt this cycle flow and, consequently, generate a hormonal imbalance in the female body, making estrogen the dominant chemical.
This estrogen prevalence brings about a host of potentially harmful side effects – from breast tenderness and increased risk of developing fibroids to certain types of cancers and Candida overabundance. Moreover, certain byproducts and toxins of the yeast overgrowth can adversely impact the entire body, causing issues far beyond a common vaginal infection or UTI.
If you’re on the pill and you’ve developed recurrent yeast infections over the past few months, then here are a few other options you can consider. Male condoms have a 98% efficacy when used correctly, being nearly as effective as birth control pills. You can use them with spermicidal creams to increase your protection. Copper and hormonal IUDs (intrauterine devices) are also a good option, offering an over 99% effectiveness rate.
If you are a regular pill user and you can’t opt for something else, we recommend switching to an oral contraceptive that has a low dose of hormones. You might also want to consider switching to a progestin-only pill, since progesterone alone is far less likely to generate an imbalance that leads to Candida infection.
One of the most alarming aftereffects of Candida overabundance is leaky gut syndrome, medically referred to as intestinal permeability. In a healthy gut, the cells that form the lining of the intestinal wall are tightly bound together. When the levels of Candida are off the charts, fungi leak into the blood and deteriorate the wall. Moreover, Candida oftentimes grows tentacles or filaments which “drill” into the gut lining and grow inside it.
Eventually, the intestinal wall becomes inflamed, dry and irritated. This leads to an increased permeability, which, in turn, contributes to further inflammation. This vicious circle ultimately weakens the intestinal tract, allowing undigested food particles and gut flora to pass through the wall and enter the bloodstream, leading to several unwanted harmful side effects. Leaky gut has been associated with asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hypothyroidism, lupus, kidney disease, eczema, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart failure and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD, which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease).
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you’re very likely to have Candida yeast infection and intestinal permeability. Any forms of bloating, cramps and persistent gas immediately after eating are associated with leaky gut, as well as alternating rounds of diarrhea and constipation. This disorder also affects the brain’s ability to focus, leading to poor concentration, headaches and irritability. Other common symptoms include food allergies or intolerances, hormonal imbalances such as PCOS and PMS, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, skin issues like eczema, acne or rosacea and seasonal allergies.
To heal your gut, you can follow The Myers Way comprehensive elimination diet or the 4R program. The latter involves removing the substances that negatively affect the GI tract (inflammatory and toxic foods), replacing it with ingredients that facilitate nutrient absorption (digestive enzymes, bile acids), re-inoculating the gut with beneficial bacteria in order to restore your gut flora and repairing the intestinal wall by providing the necessary nutrients to rejuvenate the lining of the gut wall (natural, whole foods combined with nutrient-rich supplements).
There are a few methods through which you can learn if your levels of Candida are above average. A good first step would be to get your blood tested – you want to check for the antibodies called IgM, IgA and IGg. These procedures can be easily done at most medical labs. High levels of any of the previous antibodies can be an indicator of Candida overgrowth. However, it sometimes happens that the person tested has low levels of these antitoxins, yet he or she tests positive for Candida infection after a urine or stool test.
This is why you should also order a urine organix dysbiosis test, which looks for a waste product of Candida called D-arabitinol. The examination does not only help to determine if you have elevated levels of fungus in your body, but also aids in locating the Candida (whether it’s in your small intestines or upper gut). A stool sample is also useful for checking the lower intestines, as well as your colon and determining which course of treatment will be most efficient in fighting off the infection.
Before worrying about how you can repopulate your gut with good bacteria, you have to cleanse it of the excess yeast that’s damaging it. The Candida cleanse flushes out the digestive tract and helps rid the body of surplus Candida. There are two main options you can choose to purge the gut – a liquids-only cleanse for up to 2 days or a less harsh vegetable-only diet for 3 to 5 days.
The former doesn’t mean you’ll be drinking lemon water and sugar-rich fruit juice all day long. On the contrary, the sugar in pre-packaged juices is going to harm your gut even more and feed the Candida. Instead, you’ll be preparing vegetable broth from garlic, celery, onions, kale, sea salt and pure water. That doesn’t sound tasty at all – and it isn’t – but you’ll be able to pull through it for a couple of days. You should sip on the warm broth throughout the day and also make sure that you drink plenty of water to help your body eliminate the toxins in your system. For increased efficacy, you can repeat this cleanse once every few weeks.
The vegetable cleanse is all about eliminating the food groups that could potentially cause any inflammation or help the Candida grow. So, for 3 to 5 days, you won’t be consuming any sugars, grains, fruits, starches, animal products or alcohol of any kind. You’ll mostly be eating raw, organic, nutrient-rich vegetables like cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower and dark leafy greens. During this time, you should keep away from starchy vegetables like beets, potatoes, asparagus and artichoke, as they might increase your sugar levels and, consequently, feed the Candida.
Once you’ve dramatically reduced the levels of Candida in your body, there is still a chance for an infection to occur, if your lifestyle choices feed off the fungus and make it overgrow. This is why, after you’ve healed your gut, you can maintain good health by following a whole foods, low-sugar diet.
The most important thing you should remember is to eliminate all the processed, packaged foods that you’re currently consuming and to replace them with natural, organic foods, chock full of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to thrive and fight off infection. If you plan on preventing any further yeast infections, you should throw out all refined, pre-packaged foods. Things like cookies, candy bars, pretzels and gummy bears should obviously be nowhere near your kitchen cabinets.
All sugar intake should be radically decreased or completely eliminated from your diet. This includes honey, syrup, refined sugars and other artificial sweeteners. Since gluten and Candida don’t mix well together, you should also get rid of grains and glutinous foods like white bread, corn, rice (particularly white rice), pasta and anything made with rye, wheat, oats or barley. Foods high in sugar content can work against you by feeding the Candida, so dry or canned fruit and fruit juices should be eliminated and fresh fruit should only be consumed in moderation.
All pork products contain retroviruses which survive cooking and further damage the intestinal wall. For those with an already weakened digestive system, meats high in sulfates and dextrose nitrates should be avoided at all costs. Moreover, most fish and sea food is loaded with heavy metals and toxins, which have been shown to suppress the body’s immune system, making you prone to Candida overgrowth.
With the exception of probiotic-rich products like kefir and yogurt, all dairy should be avoided. Lastly, drinking high amounts of alcohol increases blood sugar levels and makes your body vulnerable to gut permeability, so try to keep your consumption to a minimum.
Cutting out so many of your favorite dishes and staple foods might seem a little overwhelming at first, but fortunately there are countless healthy and appetizing alternatives out there. You can mix any of the following food groups to create delicious meals for both you and your family. When it comes to vegetables, you should try to opt for non-starchy ones like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, spinach, eggplant, celery, cucumber, kale, olives, avocado, onions, asparagus and raw garlic. In order to repopulate your gut with good bacteria, you can introduce live yogurt cultures into your diet such as probiotic yogurt and kefir, a type of fermented milk drink.
You should only consume organic, grass-fed meat and eggs, which you can purchase from local farmers. Nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, pecans and hazelnuts are great sources of protein and healthy fats. If you find that you can’t give up bread or pasta, try searching for gluten-free alternatives. For seasoning, you can use countless herbs and spices such as cloves, oregano, cinnamon, paprika, turmeric, basil or ginger. You should also consider purchasing a probiotic supplement or an antifungal supplement like goldenseal or olive leaf extract in order to eliminate excess yeast and balance out the gut flora.